More interesting art bits
Over at the Brooklyn Rail:
Interview with art writer Dore Ashton.
Rail: But wouldn’t you agree that his book, The Dehumanization of Art, is a somewhat hostile view of modern art?
Ashton: I don’t think that he was against modern art per se. He said something very important, which was that modern artists don’t believe in art any more. I think he was absolutely right. It was a great turning point in modern history, in 1948. And there was a lot of evidence that many modern artists didn’t think there was much to be said. And that was their problem and their dilemma. So he was misread. He wasn’t attacking abstract art. He was simply saying that in this terrible century, artists have lost their faith.
Article on one of my favorite artists, Nancy Spero.
Rail: What do you think about the Post-Modernist theory that was imported from the French in the late sixties, which became so popular in the States in the eighties, especially in academia?Ashton: First of all, I want to remind you that the Greek word “theoria” for theory really means “to view, to look at,” not about all of that a priori theory. So I was and I still am hostile to theorizing. Secondly, I believe that they took a certain formula like a grid and they put that grid on everything. ... But the appeal in general is quite simple: giving the interpretation a greater prominence than the actual work of art itself thereby removing all the sensual aspect from the seeing experience.
What persistently evades both the fictional and factual portrayal of artists is the intricacy, rigor, attentiveness to detail and facture—the work of the work of art—that characterizes individual practice and the relationship between artist and assistant.
This is a complex event that inevitably touches upon questions of authorship. The long history of gesture and trace as the genesis and primary signifier of artistic intention and identity is, as it were, placed in parenthesis by working practices that favor concept and process over action and expressiveness, a connection that carries the memory of the Duchampian Readymade as the paradigmatic performative act of modernist aesthetics. In this respect, Nancy Spero’s installations are performative events. However, watching her attentive engagement and directorship of the realisation of each printed image, there can be no doubt over her authority in determining both the overall structure and the detailed relationships of part-to-part and part-to-whole. She wants it just so, precisely and definitively, and whose hand leaves the final impress is secondary to the effectiveness of the dialogue between instructor and maker. It is a matter of interpretation and translation, and an exercise in a very particular form of communication which, perhaps, alludes more to film and the character of the mise-en-scène as the mark of directorial sensibility.